NICOLA Sturgeon has pledged to build “progressive” alliances to prop up her SNP minority government and rebuild the case for independence alongside her “defining mission” to improve education.
Scotland’s First Minister said there is a “clear progressive majority” in Holyrood, while independence remains “a position backed by a majority of MSPs,” as she set out her programme for government. She pledged to make widening access to education Scotland’s key mission and sought cross-party support for a national summit on schools reform.
The three amigos are ganging up to form a new high tax alliance. If you want to keep charging up the valley of death, please, be my guestRuth Davidson
But the Scottish Conservatives, now Holyrood’s second largest party, warned Scotland’s progressive parties against “tax raids born of envy,” and attacked the “three amigos” in Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens for proposing tax rises.
Scottish Labour questioned the SNP’s progressive credentials, accusing it of “cynicism” by attacking Tory austerity in Westminster when ministers could reverse it at Holyrood.
The Scottish Greens attacked the SNP’s plan to scrap air passenger duty, and the Lib Dems called for investment in mental health, GPs and education.
Ms Sturgeon said a key early priority will be to bring parties together to defend Scotland’s place in the EU.
She also pledged to “continue to build the case for Scotland to become independent,” insisting this is “a position backed by a majority of MSPs in this chamber” because the six Green MSPs are also in favour of taking Scotland out of the UK. But she stressed: “Scotland will only become independent if and when a majority of the people are persuaded, and we also know that our job is to govern, at all times, for all the people of this country.”
Ms Sturgeon said she would consider ideas from other parties – notably the Greens’ suggestion of a young carers’ allowance and Labour proposals to expand the minor ailments service.
She pledged to build alliances to fight “unfair or regressive Westminster policies such as continued austerity, the renewal of Trident or attempts to undermine human and trade union rights,” but she will not “allow the search for consensus to result in inertia or in the lowest common denominator for action”.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “The three amigos leading the Greens, Labour and the Lib Dems are ganging up to form a new high tax alliance. If you want to keep charging up the valley of death, please, be my guest.”